Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England
The Government Yoke

Richard Vedder

American higher education offers students relatively little education at a rapidly rising cost. It produces reams of irrelevant research, operates with breathtaking inefficiency, and treats its customers arrogantly. This sorry state of affairs has worsened markedly over the last half century, propelled largely by increased government involvement.

Start with higher education outcomes. There is a growing body of evidence that the “value added” of college in terms of knowledge acquisition and enhancement of critical thinking skills is embarrassingly small. The 2011 American Civil Literacy Report, using a test that the Intercollegiate Studies Institute gave to thousands of students, showed that seniors on average know little more than freshmen. In their careful 2011 study Academically Adrift, sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roska demonstrated that the writing and critical thinking of seniors are only slightly more advanced than that of freshmen.

Students do less yet are rewarded more. Several recent surveys have concluded that undergraduates study less frequently than their parents did (fewer than 30 hours a week on all academic chores, including class attendance, paper writing, etc.), but get higher grades: above a “B” average for all students, compared with a “C+” to “B-” average 50 years ago. Results are similarly dreary on the research side; Mark Bauerlein of Emory University has demonstrated that the vast majority of published work in his discipline, English, is rarely cited, even by other scholars in the same field.

This is bad, but what makes it scandalous is the rapidly growing amount of money spent to obtain these poor results. Tuition fees have skyrocketed, at both state and so-called “private” schools. When I started at Northwestern University in 1958, the tuition was $795 a year. Now it is $43,380. In inflation-adjusted terms, the sticker price has quadrupled. At the rather typical mid-quality state university where I have taught for more than 47 years, Ohio University, tuition has risen from $450 in 1965 to $10,216 today, tripling in real terms, growing far faster than incomes over that period.

This academic arms race is largely financed by taxpayers. In 1970, the federal government’s student financial assistance programs totaled a bit over $1 billion. Last year it was $173.8 billion. Ostensibly, this increased funding provides improved access by allowing those of modest incomes to attend college. But the proportion of recent college graduates coming from the bottom quartile of the income distribution has actually fallen sharply since 1970—from 12 percent to a bit over 7 percent. Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett was right in 1987 when he hypothesized that higher federal student loans would merely lead to higher tuition fees. Colleges, not students, capture the money.

What have the schools done with the funds? Mostly, they have hired lots of staff. The enrollment-adjusted number of “non-instructional professional” personnel has roughly doubled since the mid-1970s. Meanwhile, professors have been given reduced teaching loads—the proportion of instructors who teach four hours or less per week has more than doubled since 2000.

Administrators also pay themselves handsomely. It’s not just football coaches who make million-dollar salaries these days; some university presidents do as well, with fringe benefits that can include mansions, chauffeured cars, club memberships, copious first-class or private jet travel, even payment of income taxes.

Colleges and universities, echoed and abetted by politicians like President Barack Obama and education-cheerleader groups like the $1.4 billion Lumina Foundation, promote the notion that nearly every American should have a post-secondary education and that we need to regain world leadership in the percent of young adults who have bachelor’s degrees. Yet labor market data show that a large portion of those with bachelor’s degrees have jobs that do not require a college education. (A forthcoming Center for College Affordability and Productivity study puts the portion at around 48 percent.) There are more than 115,000 janitors, for example, with bachelor’s degrees.

The feds encourage students to borrow money for college, run up huge debts, and then, increasingly, get low-paying jobs upon graduation. The default rate on student loans is above 12 percent, exorbitantly high by commercial lending standards. The more students borrow, the easier it is for colleges to raise tuition fees to pay for the comfortable lifestyles of administrators and professors.

Colleges have no skin in this game. They often use federal monies to lure students whom they know have a high probability of not graduating, then suffer no consequences when students default.

Even so-called “private” schools are corrupted by government funding. Princeton University receives vastly more government subsidies per student than the nearby state school, the College of New Jersey. Tax deductions and exemptions (e.g., on capital gains from endowment income) give private schools a privileged status. Federal research dollars with generous overhead allowances add to the fact that prestigious private schools, with a few exceptions such as Hillsdale College, are heavily beholden to the government.

This brief tour de horizon skips some areas of dys­functionality, such as the vast underutilization of campus facilities, taxpayer-subsidized country club–style recreational centers, and more. So what is the solution?

As long as governments, particularly the one in Washington, heavily subsidize higher education, it is likely that reform efforts will be futile. For starters, we need to get the feds out of the student financial assistance business, and start privatizing state universities. Schools such as the Universities of Virginia, Michigan, and Colorado, where state subsidies amount to very small portions of the budget, would be good places to start looking for reform models. Because start we must. 

Richard Vedder directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, teaches at Ohio University, and is an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
I know I'll get a handful of tl;dr replies, but the op-ed is worth reading.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669
yep, apart from all the money/funding sloshing around, american higher-ed mostly sucks.
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669
although a major part of your problem starts in the very first paragraph: referring to students as "customers". shudder.
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England
Well, it's sold as an investment.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England
Here's another essay within the article I think you'll like:
Universities existed long before the federal government began bankrolling the higher education bubble. In the West, higher education has been around for more than 1,000 years; in America, the first colleges opened their doors long before the Founding Fathers were even born.

Even after the bubble bursts, and the government money begins to dry up, the university will endure. In the words of the founder of Faber College, the fictional school in Animal House, “Knowledge is Good.” The market for people who are inquisitive and interested in learning will always be bullish.

The real existential threat to higher ed comes from folks who conceive of college as a sort of high-end vocational-tech program. Right-leaning critics such as Naomi Schaefer Riley, Richard Vedder, and Charles Murray complain about feel-good majors that don’t help fill the nation’s need for STEM-related graduates. Left-leaning commentators such as Richard Arum, Josipa Roska, and Christopher Newfield fear that college is becoming more expensive for students even as it teaches them little or nothing of value.

These sorts of critiques are wrong for two reasons. First, they assume that education, especially college, should somehow be related to employment. While that has always been an expectation—most of America’s colonial colleges started as seminaries—it long ago stopped being the rule. In a 2011 Pew Research survey, 74 percent of college graduates called the experience “very useful” for their “knowledge and intellectual growth” and 69 percent said it facilitated their “personal growth and maturity.” A relatively puny 55 percent said college was very useful as “preparation for a job or career.”

As the proud possessor of no fewer than four English degrees (a B.A., two M.A.s, and a Ph.D.) who paid my own way through every stage, I think these graduates have it exactly right. You should be going to college to have your mind blown by new ideas (read: whole fields of knowledge that you didn’t know existed until you got to college), to discover your intellectual passions, and to figure out what sorts of experiences you might want to pursue over the next 70 or so years. And let me suggest that it’s precisely the broad field of inquiry that takes the most abuse for being totally impractical—the humanities—that students should seek out most. Understanding history, literature, art, philosophy, and the like won’t make you a better citizen, or a more responsible employee, or a happier camper, but those disciplines will give you the tools to figure out who you are and what you want to be if and when you grow up.

Second—and far more wrongheadedly—most critics of the contemporary university err in talking about the place as if it exists only or mostly to serve students, especially undergraduates. What actually sets institutions of higher learning apart from high schools, barbers’ colleges, online academies, and various universities-in-name-only is that they are centers of knowledge production. That is, they revolve around faculty scholars who are actively expanding, revising, and remaking the received wisdom in their given fields. Active researchers, whether in astronomy or zoology or cultural studies or good old American literature, are the folks that make college worth a damn.

Yet these are the very people under siege. A 2010 study spearheaded by the University of Arkansas’ Jay P. Greene for the Goldwater Institute documented “administrative bloat” at colleges and universities. Between 1993 and 2007, wrote Greene et al., student enrollment at leading research universities rose by 15 percent and the number of administrators per 100 students jumped 39 percent. The number of tenure-track faculty per 100 students barely kept track with student growth, rising just 18 percent. At Arizona State, the number of administrators per 100 students grew 94 percent while faculty slots actually shrank by 2 percent.

The best universities will be able to get by without Pell grants or guaranteed student loans or even public-sector research dollars. They will even figure out ways to keep themselves accessible to motivated students who, like me, didn’t come from money. But none of them will survive the notion that they exist mostly to serve 18- to 21-year-olds kids who need high-paying jobs rather than limn the outer edges of intellectual possibilities. 

Nick Gillespie is editor in chief of reason.com and Reason TV.
I agree with him
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669
to clarify i disagree with the first post in almost every single way, apart from its initial diagnostic on american higher-ed's problems. the solution to "privatize" everything is disastrous. i also don't really know what it's trying to get at with its anecdote about english studies at emory. perhaps a departmental weakness? certainly it is not par for the course; you don't have an academic career in writing papers without citations, or that will never be cited in turn. you don't get hired if that's your resume. it's a silly argument.

the university will outlive the state/state support, yes, certainly. but the university will also outlive neoliberal thinking. it'll outlive the current managerial vogue for turning them into all 'profit making' entities, with "excellence" and "marketability" way higher on their administrative lists than boorish sticklers such as 'originality' and 'intellectual rigour'. yes, we're in a time of economic hard-ship. yes, everything needs a review. the universities are not the problem.
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669
i posted this in the eu politics thread, but it's much more valid here:

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/f … 38.article

It has become gradually apparent since Margaret Thatcher adorned her general election victory in 1979 with the words of St Francis of Assisi, that the longstanding and deeply traditional class struggle of old Britain renewed itself with new energy - and the working class lost. Since that date, trade unionism has been emasculated, industrial Britain from Sheffield to Fife and the Clyde rendered derelict, and the wealthiest class permitted runaway accumulation of as much loot as it can rake in from financial double-dealing of a kind that has corrupted the very idea of the common good.

Over that period of more than 30 years, the noble ideals of common good and public weal have been starved until pale and spectre-thin, and everybody now supposes they can see straight through them. Only the NHS retains both authority and affection, in spite of the best efforts of the yellow press to disfigure it with horror stories, and of the government to imitate the worst aspects of the worst healthcare system in the rich world, that of the US.

In this swift mutation, unchecked by 13 years of Labour rule, the citizen - le citoyen - has become a phantom, his and her place taken by the self- righteous figure of, first, the taxpayer, and second, the consumer, freely delighting in the meaninglessness of choice, solicited on every side and against either reason or need to keep spending while wages decrease and credit cards bend and snap under the strain.

In these surely desperate circumstances, the state itself has been blamed by Thatcherites for all the faults and catastrophes of market piracy. At the present time, its vast power is being turned against itself in a new and even more comprehensive effort to “roll back” its scope and strength, and to diminish its assurance to its nation that it will, in Beveridge’s words, care for its people and protect them from cradle to grave.

It was Thomas Hobbes who first gave theoretic shape to the Leviathan that would, in historian Quentin Skinner’s paraphrase, serve as “the moral agent of the people”. Over the centuries since Hobbes discerned the creature that would control human viciousness and subdue the human propensity for cruelty and exploitation, nations came to count upon the state to incur and pay debt, to declare and wage war, to meet its duty to tame the savagery of economic disaster, to protect those least able to bear sudden misery and anguish, and to settle people and bring them safely home.

In a runaway world, it is then the prime ancillary duty of that multiplex institution, the public university, to guard, criticise and reimagine the duties and provisions of the state, to define the best purposes of its nation’s endeavours, to configure the well-being of its people, and in a joint undertaking by each of its discrepant versions across the country - come to that, across the world - to join in a collective act of storytelling. Its grand summation will then be a narrative for its people in which scholarship, production of all kinds, public welfare and private lives come together in such a way as to make the future emerge more or less decently and coherently from the past.
...
the rest is on the link

Last edited by Uzique The Lesser (2013-03-19 16:46:11)

Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England
They are a problem though. Neither of those essays suggested we completely privatize education, what they do say is that the subsidies need to go away, because they are not doing their intended job. Subsidies were intended to level the playing field between the rich and the poor to some extent and allow the poor to attend college. Instead, they've just jacked up the cost of education on the whole. As subsidies increase, tuitions go up in response, creating a positive feedback loop. If there were no subsidies, tuitions would have to decrease so that they could maintain the student populations they've grown accustomed to, which counterintuitively, would mean that more poor kids could attend.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669
the first essay says you need to 'start off' by privatizing state universities. what? universities should be a bulwark of culture and learning that resist the tides of this bullshit. i would say they are as important to keep open by the public/state as hospitals, but that would fall on deaf ears in america, wouldn't it.

again... it's fucking mind-boggling how you see things one way for yourself (personal revisionism) and another way according to the textbooks (hackneyed libertarianism). so subsidies "were" okay (operatively past tense, i notice there) when they were used by you to get an education... but now, for this generation? totally out of control! a shambles! privatize it! scrap them!

really i don't know why you bring up these topics in d&st. you are a glutton for punishment.

if there were no subsidies and state assistance, elite institutions would still remain exclusively priced, as part of the parcel of distinguishing themselves and adding prestige. that''s basic marketing and product placement: you sell an elite education for an elite price. it happened here in the UK a few years ago when the government hastily pushed through an act to try and 'clean up' university financing, by upping student tuition fees to a maximum cap of £9k/year - but the universities could choose their fees, you see! but this was illusory. of course, the top 20-30 universities in the country instantly set their fees at £9k/year, not wanting to price their 'elite' education for the same amount as the lowly plebiscite colleges. that's just what happens. remove subsidies and state assistance to get the poor/disadvantaged into education, and watch the neo-lib chancellors of private universities rake in the cash. if your home polity cannot afford to attend them, a jet-setting arriviste international class sure can!

you have far too much faith in this free-market bullshit. keep it out of education. education should be free, in an ideal world (i.e. half of europe).

Last edited by Uzique The Lesser (2013-03-19 17:30:32)

Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England
Uzi, my education was not subsidized. I worked a job, they paid for school. It's no different from an employer paying for a persons masters degree.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669
he names the pell grant specifically as one of the things that should be cut. you had a pell grant, no? you took a grant. part of your education was subsidized.
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England

Uzique The Lesser wrote:

he names the pell grant specifically as one of the things that should be cut. you had a pell grant, no? you took a grant. part of your education was subsidized.
Sigh, whatever. You know what? You're just not worth trying to have a conversation with. Complete waste of my time.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669
yeah and you're a really worthy interlocutor when you link some guys neo-lib wet-dream about privatizing universities, in which he specifically calls for the grant YOU got through college on to be cut, and then come out with a pusillanimous "i agree with him". come discuss things here when you aren't obviously having massive personal identity issues.

Last edited by Uzique The Lesser (2013-03-19 17:43:44)

Macbeth
Banned
+2,389|3001

Some of the numbers regarding default rates and other things are skewed by for profit universities. Local "technical schools" that prepare people for skilled blue collar work charge $15,000 a semester. The education they get out of it isn't very good. Anything they are taught could be learned apprenticing in the summer. Employers don't respect these fake degrees either. Pink collar nursing institutes, university of Phoenix MBAs etc. count for a large amount of student debt and default. These are things that shouldn't exist in the first place and confuse any discussions about American higher education.

Traditional 4 and 2 year colleges still have a lot to offer students. Most people just don't take advantage of it. I get 3 or 4 emails a day from my school offering workshops and seminars that help you network and learn skills that can help you get a job.
DesertFox-
The very model of a modern major general
+697|4100|United States of America
It really bothers me how many people I saw at my university who had no business being there, but nevertheless are because we're basically bringing the value of a bachelor's degree down to a high school dipolma now. After graduation, I looked back and was surprised at how little "buckling down" I actually had to do in order to get to that point, but people still struggle. My 400-level writing class was full of kids who could barely string a fucking sentence together, so the peer reviews we did were utterly useless. The engineering courses are absurdly difficult (eh, it's an "engineering school"), but to graduate in biology with a good GPA seemed to me to be too easy. Once my student loans came in though, I definitely wished I would've gotten a better education for how much I paid. The good jobs available to me out of school make $15-$16/hr and the bad ones are about $10. With 20k in loans, I expect to be living cheap for quite a while to pay that shit back, let alone dental school if and when I get accepted to that.
RAIMIUS
You with the face!
+244|4130|US

Uzique The Lesser wrote:

the first essay says you need to 'start off' by privatizing state universities. what? universities should be a bulwark of culture and learning that resist the tides of this bullshit. i would say they are as important to keep open by the public/state as hospitals, but that would fall on deaf ears in america, wouldn't it.
How does government funding keep universities as "bulwarks" of culture and learning more than private funding?
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England

DesertFox- wrote:

It really bothers me how many people I saw at my university who had no business being there, but nevertheless are because we're basically bringing the value of a bachelor's degree down to a high school dipolma now. After graduation, I looked back and was surprised at how little "buckling down" I actually had to do in order to get to that point, but people still struggle. My 400-level writing class was full of kids who could barely string a fucking sentence together, so the peer reviews we did were utterly useless. The engineering courses are absurdly difficult (eh, it's an "engineering school"), but to graduate in biology with a good GPA seemed to me to be too easy. Once my student loans came in though, I definitely wished I would've gotten a better education for how much I paid. The good jobs available to me out of school make $15-$16/hr and the bad ones are about $10. With 20k in loans, I expect to be living cheap for quite a while to pay that shit back, let alone dental school if and when I get accepted to that.
You went to ASU, or...?
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
DesertFox-
The very model of a modern major general
+697|4100|United States of America
I said engineering school, not party school. I went to Purdue because that and Indiana were the only choices I had.
Winston_Churchill
Bazinga!
+521|4154|Toronto | Canada

Students do less yet are rewarded more. Several recent surveys have concluded that undergraduates study less frequently than their parents did (fewer than 30 hours a week on all academic chores, including class attendance, paper writing, etc.), but get higher grades: above a “B” average for all students, compared with a “C+” to “B-” average 50 years ago.
I assume this is directed at American colleges directly, because this most certainly isn't true here.  Class averages are in the C- to C+ range usually, its rare for a class to have a B average (unless its a 400 level or small 300 level course).  And workload is hardly 30 hours a week, I spent 12 hours today alone on problem sets and labs.  Whatever schools these are are really, really easy on their students.
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England

DesertFox- wrote:

I said engineering school, not party school. I went to Purdue because that and Indiana were the only choices I had.
Ahh, yeah, Purdue is a really good school. Very, very difficult engineering program.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Jay
Bork! Bork! Bork!
+1,959|2773|London, England

Winston_Churchill wrote:

Students do less yet are rewarded more. Several recent surveys have concluded that undergraduates study less frequently than their parents did (fewer than 30 hours a week on all academic chores, including class attendance, paper writing, etc.), but get higher grades: above a “B” average for all students, compared with a “C+” to “B-” average 50 years ago.
I assume this is directed at American colleges directly, because this most certainly isn't true here.  Class averages are in the C- to C+ range usually, its rare for a class to have a B average (unless its a 400 level or small 300 level course).  And workload is hardly 30 hours a week, I spent 12 hours today alone on problem sets and labs.  Whatever schools these are are really, really easy on their students.
It's entirely dependent on major.
"Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough."
-Frederick Bastiat
Winston_Churchill
Bazinga!
+521|4154|Toronto | Canada

Workload maybe, but the course averages are mandated throughout the university.  Theyre supposed to be within C- to B- and either have to be a class of under 30 or the Professor has to explain why the average is so high for exceptions.
Cybargs
Moderated
+2,268|4131

Winston_Churchill wrote:

Students do less yet are rewarded more. Several recent surveys have concluded that undergraduates study less frequently than their parents did (fewer than 30 hours a week on all academic chores, including class attendance, paper writing, etc.), but get higher grades: above a “B” average for all students, compared with a “C+” to “B-” average 50 years ago.
I assume this is directed at American colleges directly, because this most certainly isn't true here.  Class averages are in the C- to C+ range usually, its rare for a class to have a B average (unless its a 400 level or small 300 level course).  And workload is hardly 30 hours a week, I spent 12 hours today alone on problem sets and labs.  Whatever schools these are are really, really easy on their students.
I think the grading system is just completely different in Canada. It's like how a "distinction" here in Aus is equivalent to an A, only like the top 8% of students get one.
https://cache.www.gametracker.com/server_info/203.46.105.23:21300/b_350_20_692108_381007_FFFFFF_000000.png
Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669

RAIMIUS wrote:

Uzique The Lesser wrote:

the first essay says you need to 'start off' by privatizing state universities. what? universities should be a bulwark of culture and learning that resist the tides of this bullshit. i would say they are as important to keep open by the public/state as hospitals, but that would fall on deaf ears in america, wouldn't it.
How does government funding keep universities as "bulwarks" of culture and learning more than private funding?
because turning universities into private 'corporate' entities, run by an administration of manager-class business-types who are looking for the 'profit motive', rather than a class of civil servants and educators, completely shifts the whole institutional ethos of the university. if you subsume the university into the everyday supply+demand mechanics of the market, what you have is an utterly compromised structure that was originally civic, now acting as commercial. a confusing mess that benefits nobody. if you remove government support and state funding, what you essentially do is shift the universities necessary focus - necessary because it won't stay open, otherwise - from original research and innovation to areas such as 'patent control' (in the sciences) and 'delivering consumer satisfaction'. this is because tuition fee money is the main income that keeps non-public universities open. thus there is a huge shift in emphasis from the student being a keen learner, there to acquire part of the universities huge wealth of knowledge and wisdom, to the student being a consumer. 'the customer is always right' is obviously a problematic dictum when you are dealing with an institution that is there to impart knowledge to a previously-uneducated customer. the customer, in fact, is not always right: the customer is clueless, and the university is there to teach him the things he does not know, for a price. completely privatizing universities opens it up to other malefic factors, such as the whim of fashion: 'cool' subjects for the median average joe student shifts around a lot: what was psychology degrees in the 80's became communication degrees in the 90's became film/media studies degrees in the 00's. fashion is an essential part of the market and of that thing that capitalism brags of as 'choice', and many people's social+educational decisions are influenced by it. what happens when you have an institution that operates solely on the bottom-line revenue from tuition? if applications for 'x' department - which may have become 'unfashionable' are down for a certain year, the managerial class start to consider closing it, naturally, as it is not 'profit-making'. thus many small centres of research excellence, doing a top-rate job intellectually, may face the axe from the private owners because it is not pulling its weight at a basic level.

this is essentially why previously hardcore academic disciplines, such as geography, have disappeared from the american ivy leagues. it is also why subjects such as classics - the absolute cornerstone of academic learning in the arts/humanities - are starting to come under threat across the western world. it's not 'cool' or vogue or a social status signifier anymore to study classics (which in previous generations carried a certain repute of difficulty and learned-ness), and so now they're having to justify their activities to an increasingly crowing managerial-class, with all sort sorts of cost- and performance- based irrelevancies that waste their time and effort. this is short-termism at its worst, and private institutions seldom seem capable of anything but short-term thinking (in the UK, anyway; i know in the US the private sector of education is much bigger, and much more developed, so these problems are not as immediate).

i really don't know why you consider it in your best interests to remove public state-funded colleges. in america there is a choice, which is surely already enough: if you want an expensive private education, there are plenty of institutions. why should the state colleges be converted, too? it can throw the very ideals and values essential to good scholarship into question, if the ship hits unsteady waters. state funding provides a little bit of immunity. whether or not the common philistine 'sees the value' in propping up esoteric research and neurotic science savants is not the point. the public purse funds many worse things. the university guarantees the high-culture and traditions of your nation, and guides it on a safe passage into the future, equipping new generation's with the vast reserves of cultural knowledge you have generated in the past. why would you want to axe that, and not several illegal wars in the middle-east, for instance?

Last edited by Uzique The Lesser (2013-03-20 04:35:18)

Uzique The Lesser
Banned
+381|1669

Winston_Churchill wrote:

Workload maybe, but the course averages are mandated throughout the university.  Theyre supposed to be within C- to B- and either have to be a class of under 30 or the Professor has to explain why the average is so high for exceptions.
ditto. i'm a ridiculously fast reader and even i had to spend about 30 hours a week minimum just to get the necessary primary+secondary reading lists out of the way (in précis: on average 2 novels, 1 'core' or 'key' philosophy/theory text, a shakespeare play or other such drama, a selection of poems and any relevant criticism/secondary or technical reading to aid understanding, and finally a batch of medieval reading in old or middle english, with long and slow translation work to perform. every. single. week). and that was just the basic weekly seminar/lecture reading material as well, so then add the 10-12 hours a week (a minimum figure, only really seen in the final year, where it's all independent) where you actually have to attend the lessons/seminars/tutor meetings (the latter which were frequent and extremely beneficial, the advantage of a small and selective department) in order to discuss and hear more about what you have read. then the next monday it would start all over, often moving on an entire period or topic to another area of literature that you had a week or two to get your head around (the structure being so that the novels, old dramas/plays, poems, and crucially the theory/philosophy/political texts all tied into one another and were relevant, each week). all that reading just the necessary 'course material', of course, with any chosen research/essay work/lecture presentations you had to prepare yourself a whole other side-show of personally-directed reading, studying, and of course, copious amounts of writing. and then of course there are plenty of extra-curricular commitments and activities that students get involved with, as ancillary experiences to prop up their studies... the student newspaper/magazine, student politics, taking part in any student councils/meetings, after-hours guest lectures/bonus seminars of interest, various 'cultural' or 'research' trips, etc. it was easily as much as the 40hr/week full-time work average.

i think it "depends on the school" a whole lot more than it "depends on the major". i was in a social group that had a wide cross-section of students from all departments, and nobody had an easy ride. you don't get 'easy' subjects riding under the radar at otherwise 'elite' institutions. the degree awarding body and examiners obviously try to get a total consistency and level of difficulty/prestige across the entire institution. it only compromises the whole teaching and student body, otherwise. i think some people here have a very fanciful image of a 'certain' student of 'certain' subjects skipping along, smelling flowers, whilst surely the reputation of their university is generated by the hard-graft of science majors! this is laughable.

Last edited by Uzique The Lesser (2013-03-20 04:43:13)

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